Having apologized for Bangladesh's 4-0 drubbing to India in the semifinal of the SAFF Women's Championship, the Bangladesh Football Federation's technical and strategic director Paul Smalley suggested nurturing multiple age-group teams and introducing the women's league in a bid to even the balance in the senior women's team, among other topics. The excerpts from his interview are below:
ON MANAGING EXPECTA-TIONS FOR THE TEAM
Taking everything into the context, the girls are young players from the U-16 and U-18 teams apart from one senior player – [captain] Sabina Khatun. The expectations are sometimes too high. I understand that everybody wants these girls to perform every time they participate in an international game or tournament. The SAFF Championship provided the most interest, provided the media with something to look at, to look forward, to be proud of. I apologize for the situation. You need to be patient because these girls will need time to be better and to mature at the senior level.
ON HIS RECOMMENDATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN'S FOOTBALL
The strategy is to have multiple age-group batches with each group having 20 to 25 players and having the programme of training and international matches. It is also very important to introduce the women's football league in order for the players to mature.
ON THE THREE-YEAR DIFFERENCE IN AVERAGE AGE BETWEEN THE BANGLADESH AND INDIA SENIOR TEAMS
It is a huge difference. I think it is not fair to compare our players with others because Nepal and India have more age-group players. They have a pool of players for each age-group team, whereas in Bangladesh we have a group of players playing in multiple age groups. That can be an advantage, but development wise it is a disadvantage. So, you have to give them time and have to be a little be patient… It is not that there are not talented players; rather they are young players. It is football so sometime it is unfair to be critical or to have high expectations.
ABOUT THE ALLEGATIONS OF BANGLADESH FIELDING OVER-AGE PLAYERS IN THE U-15 TEAM
I'm very insulted with these comments and very disappointed. Those are derogatory comments by neighbouring coaches for no reasons. All I can say is that we work very hard to recruit players for the U-14 and U-15 teams because we believe they need training early. The next stage is to continue the development of this group and broaden our pool of talent. There are some raw players in Bangladesh and [we have to consider] how can they get into football without the development of a strategic programme for different age group.